NEW ULM - Author Geoff Herbach visited the Public Library Thursday night to sign books and answer questions from fans.
Herbach is the author of the "Stupid Fast" trilogy, which tells the story of teenager Felton Reinstein. The second book in the series won the Minnesota Book Award.
Herbach detailed how he became a writer and how his experience led into his current work. He wrote his first story in fifth grade, but as a teen he had high hopes of becoming a professional football player. However, following a concussion in 11th grade during a game, he decided fiction writing was a better path.
Herbach studied English and writing in college, but on his 21st birthday his father warned him against pursuing a career in fiction writing. Eight years later, Herbach learned that those fears were unfounded and wrote his first book. Herbach's father would later deny discouraging a writing career, but it taught him an important lesson.
"If someone says your dream is dumb, take a step back for a second and think, 'Is it possible they had a bad piece of fish for dinner?'" said Herbach. "Is it possible that their fears about what you are doing are getting in the way of them seeing clearly?"
Herbach said there are no guarantees in any career field, but he told the audience it is possible to make a comfortable living in a variety of careers.
Herbach began writing the "Stupid Fast" series based on memories of a high school friend and the experiences his son was facing going through puberty. The first draft of "Stupid Fast" took a month to write. Later drafts included references to things his son would say. "I think it is why 'Stupid' has done pretty well. It has all this really weird stuff that is very good for 14-year-old boys."
Herbach recently finished a fourth Young Adult novel entitled "Fat Boy vs. The Cheerleader." The book is about a fight between an overweight kid and the cheerleading team over control of the funds generated by the school's soda machine. The hero of the story wants to make sure the funds go to the pep band, which uses the machine rather than the cheerleading team. The plot was developed in part due to frustration with how schools fund extra curricular programs.
"I also get tired of music programs getting de-funded in support of athletics. It happens all over the country. It is a complaint I hear everywhere I go. I thought I would write something about the importance of these programs, because as much as sports meant to me ... the music programs are probably what I care more about now as an adult."
Herbach teaches creative writing at Minnesota State, Mankato. He is currently working on his next book "The Keeper."